Strike Fighter Squadron ONE ZERO FIVE [VFA-105]
VFA 105 was originally commissioned on May 1, 1952 at NAS Cecil Field and was known as the "Mad Dogs" flying the venerable AD-1 "Skyraider." The squadron was decommissioned in 1959. On Nov. 1, 1967, VA 105 was recommissioned at Cecil Field, flying the new A-7A Corsair II. The "Gunslingers" embarked on their first deployment to Southeast Asia participating in combat operations in the Gulf of Tonkin from January to October 1969.
As of 1996 the "Gunslingers" had four Western Pacific and ten Mediterranean deployments to their credit, including three Indian Ocean assignments and a 1983 around-the-world deployment. They also were forward deployed to MCAS Iwakuni, Japan in 1984 as part of the Marine Corps Unit Deployment Program. The squadron has distinguished itself on numerous occasions in its relatively short history.
On January 10, 1991, VA 105 was redesignated VFA 105 as the squadron transitioned from the A-7E to the F/A-18C. The "Gunslingers" reported to CVW-3 aboard the USS John Kennedy (CV 67) on Sept. 1, 1991. VFA 105 made their first Hornet cruise in Oct. 1992. They returned from the Mediterranean in April 1993, and began workups for a deployment aboard the USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CV 69) in Oct. 1994.
In May 2001 the men and women of the 105th Strike Fighter and Twilight Pursuit Squadron completed another highly successful deployment to the Mediterranean and Persian Gulf. VFA 105 had the unique privilege and honor of complementing CARRIER AIRWING THREE aboard the USS Harry S Truman (CVN 75) which embarked on her maiden voyage on November 28, 2000 from Naval Station Norfolk, Virginia. During their deployment, a remarkable four of the six months were spent on the tip of the spear maintaining a 1.0 presence in the Persian Gulf in support of Operation Southern Watch (OSW).
Led by CDR James "JD" Dalberg, the Gunslingers demonstrated their professionalism and skill on a daily basis as they rose to the challenges of high tempo flight ops, warm weather, countless ordnance uploads and downloads, and those pitch-black, moonless night traps that are so common to the Persian Gulf. With safety as our hallmark, CDR Dalberg's top priority for the deployment was to bring everyone and everything back home just the way we left. Despite the large number of relatively inexperienced personnel, the squadron established a flawless safety record, thanks in large part to the leadership of the cruise-veteran officers and enlisted petty officers who kept many of the young pilots and troops out of harm's way.
With "Canyon" jets patrolling the skies of Southern Iraq, Saddam and his regime were left with no doubt that deadly force was waiting to strike back at the slightest sign of aggression. On a number of occasions, the Gunslingers demonstrated coalition resolve as they delivered JDAM, SLAM-ER and JSOW with deadly accuracy on targets in the heart of Iraq's sand-blown empire. Many VFA-105 "nuggets" got their first taste of "green ink", as they stepped up to the plate and executed their missions flawlessly.
The Gunslingers not only showed their professionalism over Iraq but also in the carrier landing pattern. With a remarkably talented group of 1st time cruise "nuggets," the squadron earned a total of eight Top Nugget awards, with LT Tom "Onion" Heck placing 1st overall and LT Bo "Gimp" Lock coming in 3rd for the deployment. Not to be outdone, the seasoned pilots received several Top Ten awards, with CDR Dalberg and LCDR Eric "Hitch" Rasmussen placing in the overall Top Ten for cruise.
Even though the pilots receive much of the glory and praise, true credit for our success goes to the Gunslinger Maintenance Department. Rain or shine, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, these men and women worked extremely hard under adverse conditions to make sure that fully combat capable jets were ready to fly into harm's way. Every pilot in VFA-105 has ultimate confidence in the Sailors that work on the jets - they are truly the best and the brightest today's Navy has to offer. All told, the combined efforts of the Maintenance Department and rest of the Gunslinger team resulted in over 1500 sorties and 2200 hours of flight time.
Beyond the daily grind of carrier operations, the Gunslingers also had a chance to participate in a number of exciting detachments. Several pilots from the squadron and CVW 3 participated in Exercises "BEACON FLASH" in Oman, "MAJOR MANAR" in Tunisia and "INFINITE ACCLAIM" in Jordan. For all involved, it was a great chance to spend some time off the ship and work on their foreign relations with the various countries. The pilots had the great pleasure of fighting Tunisian F-5's, Jordanian F-16's and F-1's, and Omani Jaguars and Hawks. The Gunslingers represented Navy Tacair well as they kicked butt in the air and took names on the ground. U.S. Air Force F-16's also participated in some of the detachments.
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